-- J.P. Gorman
Commercial rock radio, for some years now, has been an absolute embarrassment to the genre it’s supposed to champion. Exploring new and different avenues for exciting rock music became a necessary endeavor. Thus, indie rock was born.
There’s a caveat, however, and an important one: indie rock, much like the polar bear, eats its young. It’s a sadistic, cannibalistic world rife with peril for young bands looking to do nothing more than play interesting music.
Rock journalists have become musical speculators, always on the lookout for the Next Big Thing that proves once and for all that rock is not dead (while simultaneously confirming the total awesomeness of the person who found it). These same journalists, once finished championing their Best New Band (or, rather, once everyone else has caught on), turn their backs on the now-popular group, washing their hands and saying the band was never that good anyway, more hype than substance, conveniently forgetting who was responsible for all the hype in the first place (I’m looking at you, Pitchfork).
Which brings us to Arctic Monkeys. Are they the second coming of the Rolling Stones? The Beatles Reincarnate? No. They are four British 20 year olds who play fast-paced, hook-laden rock songs about being young, hanging out, drinking beer, and women. Turner is a clever songwriter, and the Monkeys’ music has plenty of youthful bounce. Take them at face value for what they actually are, and you have a talented band with tons of potential.
Unfortunately with indie rock, taking bands for what they are isn’t the point. People want the world to change, when a crisp breeze can be quite refreshing; revolution, when a deep breath does wonders. Everybody wants a savior, when, more often than not, a great band like Arctic Monkeys will do just fine.
-- Michael Fraiman
The Arctic Monkeys don’t suck necessarily. They just aren’t that good.
The real reason I say this is because they somehow became the biggest band to hit the U.K. last year since the Libertines—coincidentally, a far better group that sounds nearly identical, only with more musical variety.
Make a note of that. If you like the Arctic Monkeys, listen to The Libertines. Heck, I’d even accept listening to Dirty Pretty Things over the Arctic Monkeys, who also sound nearly identical but aren’t as good.
The biggest thing to strike me upon first listening to their debut, Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not, is that they—at least for this album—have restricted themselves to one style that they wind up trapped within. The bouncy guitar, the rapid drums, the distorted vocals; I skipped from song to song, and with maybe five exceptions, each track blended into the next.
Maybe it’s a matter of standards. I judge albums in comparison to the best and worst albums per genre in existence. That said, the Arctic Monkeys are not the best band to listen to if you want energized British pop-punk.
Again, it’s not that they’re a bad band. They’re just a highly mediocre one with song titles that are just sentences. (Oh, the creativity.) Granted, “When the Sun Goes Down” is a great song. Heck, “The View From the Afternoon” is also pretty sick. They’ve got some catchy riffs and some enjoyable tracks. But musically, they aren’t creative, they aren’t original, and they certainly aren’t worthy of all the praise they’ve been garnering.